Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use

Jeanette Whitaker, John L. Field, Carl J. Bernacchi, Carlos E. P. Cerri, Reinhart Ceulemans, Christian A. Davies, Evan H. Delucia, Iain S. Donnison, Jon P. McCalmont, Keith Paustian, Rebecca L. Rowe, Pete Smith, Patricia Thornley, Niall P. Mcnamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Perennial bioenergy crops have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contribute to climate change mitigation by substituting for fossil fuels; yet delivering significant GHG savings will require substantial land-use change, globally. Over the last decade, research has delivered improved understanding of the environmental benefits and risks of this transition to perennial bioenergy crops, addressing concerns that the impacts of land conversion to perennial bioenergy crops could result in increased rather than decreased GHG emissions. For policymakers to assess the most cost-effective and sustainable options for deployment and climate change mitigation, synthesis of these studies is needed to support evidence-based decision making. In 2015, a workshop was convened with researchers, policymakers and industry/business representatives from the UK, EU and internationally. Outcomes from global research on bioenergy land-use change were compared to identify areas of consensus, key uncertainties, and research priorities. Here, we discuss the strength of evidence for and against six consensus statements summarising the effects of land-use change to perennial bioenergy crops on the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and water, in the context of the whole life-cycle of bioenergy production. Our analysis suggests that the direct impacts of dedicated perennial bioenergy crops on soil carbon and nitrous oxide are increasingly well understood and are often consistent with significant life cycle GHG mitigation from bioenergy relative to conventional energy sources. We conclude that the GHG balance of perennial bioenergy crop cultivation will often be favourable, with maximum GHG savings achieved where crops are grown on soils with low carbon stocks and conservative nutrient application, accruing additional environmental benefits such as improved water quality. The analysis reported here demonstrates there is a mature and increasingly comprehensive evidence base on the environmental benefits and risks of bioenergy cultivation which can support the development of a sustainable bioenergy industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-164
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Change Biology. Bioenergy
Volume10
Issue number3
Early online date27 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Fingerprint

energy crops
bioenergy
Land use
Crops
Greenhouse gases
uncertainty
land use
greenhouse gases
land use change
crop
ecosystem services
greenhouse gas
pollution control
greenhouse gas emissions
Gas emissions
life cycle (organisms)
Climate change
Carbon
Life cycle
climate change

Keywords

  • Biofuels
  • Biomass
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Land-use change
  • Life-cycle assessment
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Perennial bioenergy crops
  • Soil carbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal

Cite this

Whitaker, J., Field, J. L., Bernacchi, C. J., Cerri, C. E. P., Ceulemans, R., Davies, C. A., ... Mcnamara, N. P. (2018). Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use. Global Change Biology. Bioenergy, 10(3), 150-164. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12488

Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use. / Whitaker, Jeanette; Field, John L.; Bernacchi, Carl J.; Cerri, Carlos E. P.; Ceulemans, Reinhart; Davies, Christian A.; Delucia, Evan H.; Donnison, Iain S.; McCalmont, Jon P.; Paustian, Keith; Rowe, Rebecca L.; Smith, Pete; Thornley, Patricia; Mcnamara, Niall P.

In: Global Change Biology. Bioenergy, Vol. 10, No. 3, 03.2018, p. 150-164.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Whitaker, J, Field, JL, Bernacchi, CJ, Cerri, CEP, Ceulemans, R, Davies, CA, Delucia, EH, Donnison, IS, McCalmont, JP, Paustian, K, Rowe, RL, Smith, P, Thornley, P & Mcnamara, NP 2018, 'Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use' Global Change Biology. Bioenergy, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 150-164. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12488
Whitaker J, Field JL, Bernacchi CJ, Cerri CEP, Ceulemans R, Davies CA et al. Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use. Global Change Biology. Bioenergy. 2018 Mar;10(3):150-164. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12488
Whitaker, Jeanette ; Field, John L. ; Bernacchi, Carl J. ; Cerri, Carlos E. P. ; Ceulemans, Reinhart ; Davies, Christian A. ; Delucia, Evan H. ; Donnison, Iain S. ; McCalmont, Jon P. ; Paustian, Keith ; Rowe, Rebecca L. ; Smith, Pete ; Thornley, Patricia ; Mcnamara, Niall P. / Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use. In: Global Change Biology. Bioenergy. 2018 ; Vol. 10, No. 3. pp. 150-164.
@article{ae298481b5064a1fa9c2c30192ebc68b,
title = "Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use",
abstract = "Perennial bioenergy crops have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contribute to climate change mitigation by substituting for fossil fuels; yet delivering significant GHG savings will require substantial land-use change, globally. Over the last decade, research has delivered improved understanding of the environmental benefits and risks of this transition to perennial bioenergy crops, addressing concerns that the impacts of land conversion to perennial bioenergy crops could result in increased rather than decreased GHG emissions. For policymakers to assess the most cost-effective and sustainable options for deployment and climate change mitigation, synthesis of these studies is needed to support evidence-based decision making. In 2015, a workshop was convened with researchers, policymakers and industry/business representatives from the UK, EU and internationally. Outcomes from global research on bioenergy land-use change were compared to identify areas of consensus, key uncertainties, and research priorities. Here, we discuss the strength of evidence for and against six consensus statements summarising the effects of land-use change to perennial bioenergy crops on the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and water, in the context of the whole life-cycle of bioenergy production. Our analysis suggests that the direct impacts of dedicated perennial bioenergy crops on soil carbon and nitrous oxide are increasingly well understood and are often consistent with significant life cycle GHG mitigation from bioenergy relative to conventional energy sources. We conclude that the GHG balance of perennial bioenergy crop cultivation will often be favourable, with maximum GHG savings achieved where crops are grown on soils with low carbon stocks and conservative nutrient application, accruing additional environmental benefits such as improved water quality. The analysis reported here demonstrates there is a mature and increasingly comprehensive evidence base on the environmental benefits and risks of bioenergy cultivation which can support the development of a sustainable bioenergy industry.",
keywords = "Biofuels, Biomass, Greenhouse gas emissions, Land-use change, Life-cycle assessment, Nitrous oxide, Perennial bioenergy crops, Soil carbon",
author = "Jeanette Whitaker and Field, {John L.} and Bernacchi, {Carl J.} and Cerri, {Carlos E. P.} and Reinhart Ceulemans and Davies, {Christian A.} and Delucia, {Evan H.} and Donnison, {Iain S.} and McCalmont, {Jon P.} and Keith Paustian and Rowe, {Rebecca L.} and Pete Smith and Patricia Thornley and Mcnamara, {Niall P.}",
note = "Acknowledgements This work is the product of a workshop held at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in 2015 sponsored by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Algal Bioenergy Special Interest Group. The views presented here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the sponsoring organizations. Exemplar projects used in the workshop include the ELUM: Ecosystem Land Use Modelling project commissioned and funded by the Energy Technologies Institute and POPFULL supported by the European Research Council under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) as ERC Advanced Grant agreement #233366. JW holds a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship on bioenergy and soil sustainability (NE/M006832/1); NM, JW, RR, PS, JM and ID contribute to ETI-ELUM (ETI/ET/I000100/1) and MAGLUE (EPSRC Supergen Bioenergy Hub Challenge grant EP/M013200/1). The input of PS also contributes to projects, Assess-BECCS (funded by UKERC) and Soils-R-GRREAT (NE/P019455/1). Support for JF and KP from USDA/NIFA research grants (2011-67009-30083; 2013-68005-21298) is acknowledged. EHD was supported by a grant from the North Central Regional Sun Grant Center at South Dakota State University through a grant provided by the US Department of Energy Office of Biomass Programs (award number DE-FG36-08GO88073), with additional support provided to EHD and CJB by the Energy Biosciences Institute, University of Illinois and University of California, Berkeley.",
year = "2018",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1111/gcbb.12488",
language = "English",
volume = "10",
pages = "150--164",
journal = "Global Change Biology. Bioenergy",
issn = "1757-1693",
publisher = "Wiley",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use

AU - Whitaker, Jeanette

AU - Field, John L.

AU - Bernacchi, Carl J.

AU - Cerri, Carlos E. P.

AU - Ceulemans, Reinhart

AU - Davies, Christian A.

AU - Delucia, Evan H.

AU - Donnison, Iain S.

AU - McCalmont, Jon P.

AU - Paustian, Keith

AU - Rowe, Rebecca L.

AU - Smith, Pete

AU - Thornley, Patricia

AU - Mcnamara, Niall P.

N1 - Acknowledgements This work is the product of a workshop held at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in 2015 sponsored by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Algal Bioenergy Special Interest Group. The views presented here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the sponsoring organizations. Exemplar projects used in the workshop include the ELUM: Ecosystem Land Use Modelling project commissioned and funded by the Energy Technologies Institute and POPFULL supported by the European Research Council under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) as ERC Advanced Grant agreement #233366. JW holds a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship on bioenergy and soil sustainability (NE/M006832/1); NM, JW, RR, PS, JM and ID contribute to ETI-ELUM (ETI/ET/I000100/1) and MAGLUE (EPSRC Supergen Bioenergy Hub Challenge grant EP/M013200/1). The input of PS also contributes to projects, Assess-BECCS (funded by UKERC) and Soils-R-GRREAT (NE/P019455/1). Support for JF and KP from USDA/NIFA research grants (2011-67009-30083; 2013-68005-21298) is acknowledged. EHD was supported by a grant from the North Central Regional Sun Grant Center at South Dakota State University through a grant provided by the US Department of Energy Office of Biomass Programs (award number DE-FG36-08GO88073), with additional support provided to EHD and CJB by the Energy Biosciences Institute, University of Illinois and University of California, Berkeley.

PY - 2018/3

Y1 - 2018/3

N2 - Perennial bioenergy crops have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contribute to climate change mitigation by substituting for fossil fuels; yet delivering significant GHG savings will require substantial land-use change, globally. Over the last decade, research has delivered improved understanding of the environmental benefits and risks of this transition to perennial bioenergy crops, addressing concerns that the impacts of land conversion to perennial bioenergy crops could result in increased rather than decreased GHG emissions. For policymakers to assess the most cost-effective and sustainable options for deployment and climate change mitigation, synthesis of these studies is needed to support evidence-based decision making. In 2015, a workshop was convened with researchers, policymakers and industry/business representatives from the UK, EU and internationally. Outcomes from global research on bioenergy land-use change were compared to identify areas of consensus, key uncertainties, and research priorities. Here, we discuss the strength of evidence for and against six consensus statements summarising the effects of land-use change to perennial bioenergy crops on the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and water, in the context of the whole life-cycle of bioenergy production. Our analysis suggests that the direct impacts of dedicated perennial bioenergy crops on soil carbon and nitrous oxide are increasingly well understood and are often consistent with significant life cycle GHG mitigation from bioenergy relative to conventional energy sources. We conclude that the GHG balance of perennial bioenergy crop cultivation will often be favourable, with maximum GHG savings achieved where crops are grown on soils with low carbon stocks and conservative nutrient application, accruing additional environmental benefits such as improved water quality. The analysis reported here demonstrates there is a mature and increasingly comprehensive evidence base on the environmental benefits and risks of bioenergy cultivation which can support the development of a sustainable bioenergy industry.

AB - Perennial bioenergy crops have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contribute to climate change mitigation by substituting for fossil fuels; yet delivering significant GHG savings will require substantial land-use change, globally. Over the last decade, research has delivered improved understanding of the environmental benefits and risks of this transition to perennial bioenergy crops, addressing concerns that the impacts of land conversion to perennial bioenergy crops could result in increased rather than decreased GHG emissions. For policymakers to assess the most cost-effective and sustainable options for deployment and climate change mitigation, synthesis of these studies is needed to support evidence-based decision making. In 2015, a workshop was convened with researchers, policymakers and industry/business representatives from the UK, EU and internationally. Outcomes from global research on bioenergy land-use change were compared to identify areas of consensus, key uncertainties, and research priorities. Here, we discuss the strength of evidence for and against six consensus statements summarising the effects of land-use change to perennial bioenergy crops on the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and water, in the context of the whole life-cycle of bioenergy production. Our analysis suggests that the direct impacts of dedicated perennial bioenergy crops on soil carbon and nitrous oxide are increasingly well understood and are often consistent with significant life cycle GHG mitigation from bioenergy relative to conventional energy sources. We conclude that the GHG balance of perennial bioenergy crop cultivation will often be favourable, with maximum GHG savings achieved where crops are grown on soils with low carbon stocks and conservative nutrient application, accruing additional environmental benefits such as improved water quality. The analysis reported here demonstrates there is a mature and increasingly comprehensive evidence base on the environmental benefits and risks of bioenergy cultivation which can support the development of a sustainable bioenergy industry.

KW - Biofuels

KW - Biomass

KW - Greenhouse gas emissions

KW - Land-use change

KW - Life-cycle assessment

KW - Nitrous oxide

KW - Perennial bioenergy crops

KW - Soil carbon

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85035233278&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/gcbb.12488

DO - 10.1111/gcbb.12488

M3 - Article

VL - 10

SP - 150

EP - 164

JO - Global Change Biology. Bioenergy

JF - Global Change Biology. Bioenergy

SN - 1757-1693

IS - 3

ER -